Tribpedia: Death Penalty

The death penalty is the ultimate punishment for capital murder convictions in Texas, which leads the nation in the number of executions since the practice resumed in 1976.

The state has adopted various methods to administer the death penalty over the years, including hanging (1819-1923), electrocution (1924-1964) and lethal injection (1977-today), according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's ...

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 3/28/11

Tan's wall-to-wall coverage of the budget (with more from the rest of the Trib crew, interviews with some of the freshmen seeing this up close for the first time and a map of how it works), Philpott on the similarities between budget worries in Texas and those elsewhere, M. Smith explains school finance, Ramshaw on the dwindling insurance options for orphans, Grissom on legal fights over the drugs used for state executions, Aguilar on the run-up to the debate over sanctuary cities, Stiles maps the diversity of Texas counties, Galbraith on efforts to recycle plastic bags and Hamilton on calls for "entrepreneurship" at the University of Texas: The best of our best content from March 28 to April 1, 2011.

This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.
This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.

Lawyers Allege Texas Illegally Obtains Death Drugs

Lawyers for two Texas death row inmates today asked state and federal law enforcement to investigate whether prison officials illegally obtained death penalty drugs the state used in nearly all of its 466 executions by using the Drug Enforcement Agency registration number of a long-closed facility.

Jim Willett is the director of the Texas Prison Museum and was a warden at the Walls Unit who oversaw 89 executions by lethal injection. He sits in a replica cell within the museum.
Jim Willett is the director of the Texas Prison Museum and was a warden at the Walls Unit who oversaw 89 executions by lethal injection. He sits in a replica cell within the museum.

Looking Back on a Life as a Death House Warden

Jim Willett had not intended to spend the better part of his adult life working in Texas’ sprawling prison system. But the business student turned prison guard worked 30 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and oversaw 89 executions. Now, a decade into his retirement, he still spends his days surrounded by mementos of lives spent behind razor wire, steel bars and thick brick walls.

Rev. Carroll Pickett holds the world record for witnessing the most state executions as a chaplain. He saw 95 men die by lethal injection during his career as the death house chaplain.

Rev. Carroll Pickett: The TT Interview

Rev. Carroll Pickett holds the world record for witnessing the most state executions as a chaplain. He saw 95 men die by lethal injection during his career as the death house chaplain. He sat down with the Tribune recently to talk about how he "seduced the emotions" of the condemned, why his views about the death penalty changed and how he now copes with all the death he saw over the years.

UT/TT Poll: Texans Are Ready to Roll the Dice

A majority of the state's voters say they're ready for full-blown casino gambling, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. In a range of questions on social and other issues, they say they support requiring voters to produce photo IDs, government aid to the poor, the death penalty and requiring doctors to show sonogram results to women seeking abortions.

Timothy Wayne Adams, convicted of murdering his 19-month-old son, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 22, 2011.
Timothy Wayne Adams, convicted of murdering his 19-month-old son, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 22, 2011.

Religious Leaders Advocate for Ex-Veteran's Clemency

Today, a week before his son is scheduled to die, Columbus Adams and a host of religious leaders asked the state to forgive Timothy Adams. His son, he said, was a hard-working Christian and an Army veteran, who never committed a crime before the day he lost control during an argument with his wife and killed their son.

Timothy Wayne Adams, convicted of murdering his 19-month-old son, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 22, 2011.
Timothy Wayne Adams, convicted of murdering his 19-month-old son, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 22, 2011.

Veteran Who Shot Baby Seeks Clemency

He was an Army veteran and a Houston security guard who had never been arrested until February 2002, when a fight with his wife sent Timothy Adams into a suicidal spiral. During a stand-off with police, Adams fatally shot his 19-month-old son twice in the chest — landing him a spot on death row.

Old Sparky, the electric chair Texas used to executive inmates from 1924 to 1964.
Old Sparky, the electric chair Texas used to executive inmates from 1924 to 1964.

Texplainer: Could Texas Fire Up Old Sparky?

The short answer is yes — and no. It's still around, and would work if it was plugged in. But it can't be used for executions in Texas anymore. 

This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.
This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.

Texas Juries Gave Only 8 Death Sentences in 2010

Texas juries sentenced just eight people to death in 2010, the smallest number since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment here in 1976, according to a report published today by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Judge to Rule on Death Penalty Constitutionality

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Harris County District Judge Kevin Fine is set to hold a hearing Monday in the case of John Edward Green, who is charged with fatally shooting a Houston woman during a robbery in June 2008. Green’s attorneys and capital punishment opponents want Fine to find that prosecutors can’t seek the death penalty because the way we administer it in Texas is unconstitutional. “The current system is profoundly and fundamentally flawed from top to bottom,” says Andrea Keilen, executive director of the Texas Defender Service. Prosecutors counter that the ruling should be made by higher courts, not a trial judge.

An Interview with Texas Judge Sharon Keller

The soft-spoken and — until now — media-shy presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals sat down with The Texas Tribune last week to talk about capital punishment in Texas, what she was doing on the afternoon she closed her office at 5 p.m. to a last-minute death row appeal, the flaws in the way the state sanctions judges, what it's like to be known as Sharon “Killer” Keller and the "ridiculous" idea that she doesn't care about defendants or indigent defense.
The soft-spoken and — until now — media-shy presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals sat down with The Texas Tribune last week to talk about capital punishment in Texas, what she was doing on the afternoon she closed her office at 5 p.m. to a last-minute death row appeal, the flaws in the way the state sanctions judges, what it's like to be known as Sharon “Killer” Keller and the "ridiculous" idea that she doesn't care about defendants or indigent defense.

An Interview With Judge Sharon Keller

The soft-spoken and — until now — media-shy presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals sat down with The Texas Tribune last week to talk about capital punishment in Texas, what she was doing on the afternoon she closed her office at 5 p.m. to a last-minute death row appeal, the flaws in the way the state sanctions judges, what it's like to be known as Sharon “Killer” Keller and the "ridiculous" idea that she doesn't care about defendants or indigent defense.